Monday, October 14, 2013

BATTLE of HASTINGS ~ October 14, 1066

The Norman conquest of England or 'The Conquest' began in 1066 with the invasion of the Kingdom of England by the troops of William, Duke of Normandy ('William the Conqueror' or 'William the Bastard').

The Battle of Hastings (14 October 1066) was the decisive Norman victory in the Norman Conquest. It was fought between the Norman army of William the Conqueror, and the English army led by Harold Godwinson. The battle took place at Senlac Hill, approximately 6 miles northwest of Hastings.

The Norman army was estimated to number as many as 8,400 and consisted of at the most 2,200 cavalry, 4,500 infantry and 1,700 archers and crossbowmen. William's strategy relied on archers to soften the enemy, followed by a general advance of the infantry, and then a cavalry charge. The Norman army was composed of nobles, mercenaries, and troops from France and Europe, including some from Southern Italy. The English army is usually thought to have numbered roughly 7,500 and consisted entirely of infantry. It is most probable that all the members of the army rode to battle, but once at the appointed place they dismounted to fight on foot.

The battle was a decisive Norman victory. Harold II was killed; traditionally, it is believed he was shot through the eye with an arrow. Although there was further English resistance, this battle is seen as the point at which William gained control of England.

The famous Bayeux Tapestry depicts the events before and during the battle. An abbey, known as Battle Abbey in East Sussex, was subsequently built on the site of the conflict.

This battle resulted in Norman control of England, which was firmly established during the next few years. The Norman Conquest was a pivotal event in English history for several reasons. It largely removed the native ruling class, replacing it with a foreign, French-speaking monarchy, aristocracy, and clerical hierarchy. This in turn brought about a transformation of the English language and the culture of England. By subjecting the country to rulers originating in France it linked England more closely with continental Europe, while lessening Scandinavian influence, and set the stage for a rivalry with France that would continue intermittently for more than eight centuries. It also had important consequences for the rest of the British Isles, paving the way for further Norman invasions in Wales and Ireland, and the extensive penetration of the aristocracy of Scotland by Norman and other French-speaking families.

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